Sunday, February 28, 2010

Pumping up page hit stats by forcing viewers to repeatedly sign in hurts everybody in the long run.

One of the biggest problems the internet faces is most users want everything for free.

While this is not a problem for the user, it is a problem for the content providers. The problem is so bad that even questionable ads are allowed to run. One time I had to contact consumer affairs dot com and notify them that they were running an ad that required people to answer a survey and then receive a free product or service, but then at the end of the survey the reader is forced to click on a link before they can get the free advertised product or service.

The survey actually tried to rationalize this click or else instruction by politely explaining that it was only fair to at least visit the link since the link was responsible for the free product or service that was being offered. Unfortunately, the "click on the link or get nothing" disclosure was being made at the end of the survey, not the beginning, and that in my book makes it unethical.

Consumer affairs dot com apparently agreed with me since I the ad disappeared just a day or two after I contacted them. Just another example of a "free consumer watchdog consult" on my part.

Not only are advertisers anxious for a return on their advertising dollars, so are the websites that provide the ad space. There was a recent makeover on a sports site I regularly visit and I think it is causing deceptive and elevated unique viewer totals as a result.

Basically, the site requires me to exit and go to the main page every few hours and re enter my login information! In the course of a 24 hour time span, I might be required to re log in anywhere from 3-5 times!

This begs the question, Just ow is the website counting each of my re-enters?

It is my opinion that the website is either treating each of my visits as a new visit. However, just how valuable is an annoyed viewer? It annoyes me that I am required to re enter my ID info and password in such short time increments. Not only does the constant re-entering and logging in waste time, but then I have to go through at least 3 different internal page links to get back to where I was.

If the site is claiming 1.2 million visitors a month, but the reality is the number is actually 400,000 unique visitors a month who are before forced to log in every few hours, the website is actually devaluing the strength of their site to advertisers by over estimating users. If the site is actually getting 1.2 million visitors a month but several million more page hits because of all the additional pages the viewer must traverse to get back to where they were, then all of those views should not be considered quality views.

One way or another, forcing people to "go back and re enter through the front door" is creating false numbers somewhere in the data. The problem with pumping up hit totals is that it will dilute the number of quality hits or revenue that the ads generate. Statistical hit elevation is like the government printing up all the money they want even though the actual products and services that are available don't increase.

A smart advertiser that keeps track of all their advertising results may quickly notice that the sites that falsely elevate their hit numbers produce less quality leads per hit than other sites that are more accurate in their tallies.

Unfortunately, creatives who made internet ads could be have their reputation damaged by sites that claim more hits than reality because it makes the ad look like it is not getting an acceptable result.

The more pressure there is to deceive, the more we will all pay a greater price in the end.

If you are planning on creating or broadcasting a commercial and want an objective, outsiders point of view about your commercial, contact Alessandro Machi about his consulting services at...

info at alexlogic.com

You can also view more
commercial critiques
by Alessandro Machi at

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